As the Cleveland Browns attempt to recover from another abysmal season, they are looking to their new acquisitions to lead the way into a brighter future. Focused mainly on offense during the draft, they addressed a few of their needs, while solidifying their strong spots.
As we wrap up OTAs and move on in a couple months to training camp, all eyes will be focused on the brewing quarterback “competition.” (Let’s be real, this contest was decided as soon as the Browns elected to draft a 28-year old QB in the first round – more on that in the future.)
However, based on what I’ve seen, we should all be looking elsewhere to determine the future of this franchise.
In today’s pass-first NFL, it appears the Browns are attempting to get back to their roots, the glory days of Marion Motley, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and more. Amongst the hard-nosed defenses in the AFC North, Cleveland is putting together a prodigious ground attack.
The pieces are almost all in place. Joe Thomas, arguably the best left tackle in the NFL, last year signed a 7-year extension, ensuring he’ll continue to anchor the line for the foreseeable future. With Jason Pinkston and Alex Mack continuing to develop, the entire left side of the line should be adept at opening up holes for the backfield. Second round draft pick Mitchell Schwartz should step right into the starting right tackle spot, immediately adding an imposing physical aspect to this impressive unit. At right guard, the problem spot of the past few seasons, fifth round draft pick Ryan Miller, out of Colorado, is expected to push Shawn Lauvao for a starting spot. This young (average age: 24.8) line has the potential to be paving the way for years to come.
Not to mention who they’ll be paving the way for: third overall draft pick, Trent Richardson, one of the best running back prospects since Adrian Peterson. Though described as ordinary by one hall of fame running back, Richardson has done nothing but impress and surprise the coaching staff since his arrival in Berea, Ohio.
Throw in a seventh round steal, Richardson’s lead blocker at Alabama, a serviceable quarterback and a few wide receivers who won’t drop the ball every time it’s thrown to them, and you’ve got a promising, bordering on elite, running game.
If it’s true, this strategy would explain the Browns’ initially puzzling and frustrating decision to not draft a wide receiver in the first three rounds, when it was their most obvious need.
If Brandon Weeden can keep defenses honest with an adequate passing game, look for great things from the Cleveland Browns running game in the future.
- Grady Garrison